Montreal is actually quite a small town. The influence is very European (read 'French') and this comes through everywhere you look. The town is centered around districts and as a tourist, you're mostly going to be around the St. Catherine area but there are pockets of interesting areas all over the place.
There is plenty of shopping to be had too, in fact no end of it if you want and to suit all budgets. Generally, pricing in Montreal is slightly lower than London (UK) but not all that much.
We didn't try the nightlife, other than the casino (more below) but it is buzzing. This is probably due to the high student population and the Montrealeans themselves.
Food wise, Montreal is a half-way house between US style and European style food. The rates are again, reasonable, and the restaurants do tend to cater for the Montreal taste (i.e. pointed towards European flavours rather than the original ethnic flavour). Earlier I noted the 'French' influence, food wise this goes all the way to some restaurants refusing to serve pancakes, preferring instead to serve Crepes. The crepes were lovely though so it didn't bother us too much but helps illustrate the general ambience everywhere you go.
Things you must do:
What we-didn't-but-should-have done:
Schwatrz's (email: firstname.lastname@example.org) 3895 St. Laurent Blvd., Montreal H2W 1X9; T: +1 514 842 4813; F: +1 514 842 0800; This is the definitive Smoked Meat place in Montreal. Its been around since the 1930's and looks like a small tiny cafe crammed into the Jewish corner of Montreal. The smoked meat, which is a the delicacy of the area, is made to the original recipe which hasn't changed since they started. We preferred the lean (or 'Dry') cuts which had much less fat on them but you can choose a fatty cut if you prefer. The place is always packed with a queue of customers trying to get in. This was one of our most favourite restaurants in town and well worth the trek up St. Laurent to get there.(April 2003)
Ristorante Lucca, 12 Dante, Montreal, QC H25 1J5; T: +1 514 278 6502; We stumbled into this restaurant in the Italian quarter of Montreal quite by accident and loved it. The food and service were impeccable and aside from forgetting a small side order, they got everthing right.(April 2003)
Nickels (chain). This is a US style diner with great food and service. (April 2003)
Dunns Famous (email: email@example.com) 1219 Place Phillips, Montreal H3B 3E9; T:+1 513 393 3866; F:+1 514 393 8855; This is another popular smoked meat/steak house just off St. Catherine Street. We liked it a lot and while no one compares to Schwartzs, it was a lot closer and definitely worth the visit. (April 2003)
Reuben's Deli, 1116 Ste-Catherine O. (corner of Peel & Stanley), Montreal H3B 1H4; T: +1 514 866 1029; This is chain of restaurants in town and again caters for the smoked meat and steak staple. Reuben's offered us a choice of spicy or not-spicy versions which was different but interestingly neglected to offer any lean cuts - don't know if its because they don't do them or not. Recommended nonetheless. (April 2003)
Koko Sushi Bar, 1809 Ste-Catherine O., Montreal H3H 1M2; T: +1 514 935 1388; This is actually a Korean cafe that serves Sushi and soup noodle dishes. It seems to cater mostly for students and was pleasant enough for a snack. Not really a place to go for a sit down dinner. (April 2003)
Hilton Bonaventure; 1 Place Bonaventrue, PO Box 779, Montreal H5A 1E4; T: +1 514 878 2332; F: +1 514 878 1442. Very uninspiring hotel with a strong 70's feel to it. The restaurants did little to bring feelings for any return visits and the service was generally lax. Our concierge must have taken the week off because we had to rely on the friendly but totally incorrect information from the bellmen. For the room rates demanded, we'd recommend one of the other hotels - maybe one with higher floors and views. (April 2003)(back to top)